DISCLAIMER: F. A. G. belongs to ralst, its founder. Thanks to eclecticfan for the speedy beta.
CHALLENGE: Written for the first International Day of Femslash.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The night was still - too still for the Warrior Princess as she turned her ear toward the campground below. She and Gabrielle had found the perfect spot on a ridge just above the plush green grass of a valley that was surrounded on both sides by rolling hills and towering pine trees. Tents as far as the eye could see had been set up in preparation for an occasion that knew no bounds, had no equal, and was expected to be one of the top, if not the very top, event of the century. In fact, many fandoms and pairings had already arrived for the landmark occasion, staking claim to the sites closest to the massive stage that had been constructed for the very event. With less than a week to go, tempers had begun to flare as various members had argued about which fandoms would receive the most attention, and it had been left to Xena and a few of the other members of the group to keep the peace.
Sighing tiredly, Xena reached to her side for her lover, bolting upright when she came up with nothing but air. She grabbed for the chakram at her waist and jumped to her feet, calling out her lover's name. "Gabrielle!" When no answer was forthcoming, she glared down at the blue and yellow tent nearest the stage as she pushed off the ledge, somersaulted to the ground below, and stomped toward the tent, never taking her eyes off her destination.
The sound of pounding footsteps had Olivia Benson reaching under her pillow for her gun and easing to her feet. She whispered to wake her lover. "Alex, wake up. Someone's coming." She spared a quick glance at their bedroll, prepared to nudge Alex with her foot, only to find it empty. "Son of a bitch!" Olivia pulled back the slide of her gun and moved to the entrance of their tent.
"Jo . . . Jo . . . Jo!" Blair Warner poked her lover in the back.
"Again? I just got to sleep, you're going to put me in an early grave," mumbled Jo, blindly reaching back and finding her lover's breast on her first try. She squeezed hard and turned, moving her lips to Blair's neck in the hopes that she could satisfy her lover with a quickie. Using sex to distract Blair from complaining about sleeping in a tent was quickly backfiring.
"Not that," moaned Blair, pushing into her lover's hand nonetheless. "There's " Jo sucked on her pulse point, "yeah, right there. Oh, um, I think something's wrong . . . whoa, that's new."
Jo stopped cold. "Wrong? With what?"
"Nothing, I was probably mistaken. Now, about that thing you just did with your tongue, think you can do it again?"
"Blair, what's wrong?"
Blair sighed and rolled onto her back. "Someone's running around outside, and Olivia is mad about something."
Jo pushed to her feet and quickly pulled her gun from her bag. "Why didn't you say so?" Unzipping the tent, she stepped outside.
Blair placed the pillow over her face and screamed.
"Ash? Did you hear that?" Scribbs sat up and cocked an ear toward the tent's opening.
"No, go back to sleep," Ash slurred, taking advantage of her partner's distraction to hog the blanket. With a half-smile, she immediately fell back into a deep sleep.
"I heard a muffled scream." Pushing to her knees, Scribbs retrieved her baton, glad, as she always was, that she had the lightweight baton rather than a short truncheon. The gentle rasp as the baton extended was soft enough not to disturb the snoring Ash as she crept toward the exit.
"Karen, wake up," whispered Marley Novak, tilting her head toward the faint clicking noise she'd heard. She rolled onto her side and pulled her gun from its holster, discovering that Karen had already done the same, mirroring Marley's motions unknowingly.
"I heard it, too." Karen rose to her feet along with her lover as the pair left their tent to investigate the noise. They'd just rounded the corner when a loud scream echoed through the valley.
"Yiyiyiyiyiyiyi," Xena never lost a step as she let her chakram fly, the spinning metal weapon knocking Olivia's gun from her hand, and then ricocheting to first disarm Jo, and then Scribbs. On its return flight, it nicked Karen and Marley's weapons, disarming both women, as the chakram zinged its way back into Xena's hand. She stomped toward the assembled group, her eyes focused solely on Olivia. "Where's Gabrielle?"
"Hey, what's going on?" Samantha Carter held her Zat out in front of her with her lover, Janet Frasier, flanking her right side and aiming a hand gun that appeared to be much bigger than she was. Olivia could've sworn it was a 50-caliber.
"Yeah, what's all the noise about?" Nora Delaney kept her weapon trained on the small circle of women as did her partner, Nikki Beaumont, who widened her stance in her shiny new Prada boots. Their frustrated expressions a direct response to having been rudely interrupted, or perhaps just interrupted in general, but interrupted being the operative word.
Olivia opened her mouth to explain what little she knew, but quickly closed it as she glanced around the area. There was gun after gun pointed at her little group.
The FBI was well represented with Agents Prentiss, Jareau, Scully, and Reyes, while law enforcement held its own with Detectives Curtis and Wheeler, Inspectors Monahan and Boxer, and CSIs Sidle, Willows, Duquesne, and Boa Vista. Even the private investigators made a nice showing with Sabrina Duncan and Kelly Garrett also aiming their weapons, but what truly surprised Olivia was the amount of firepower displayed by the contingency from Little Stempington. Those women meant business.
The air was thick with tension as fingers twitched on triggers and eyes refused to blink. Any moment now, someone would flinch, and it would all be over bullets would fly and blood would be spilled. Something had to happen to end the stalemate, something that would draw attention away from the standoff, something not expected
"You're a wanker number 9!!!" Rachel let loose a yell that Luce would have been proud of had the circumstances been different, but scaring the crap out of a bunch of women toting guns was not the time. She closed her eyes and waited for bullets to cut through her body like a hot knife through butter, but a voice of reason sounded out before any shots could be fired.
"Let's sit down and talk about this calmly. Maybe we can negotiate," said Tracey Kibre, her words receiving nods of agreement from Abbie Carmichael, Serena Southerlyn, Jill Bernhardt, and of course, her lover, Kelly Gaffney.
"I say we terminate them all." Cameron leveled the automatic rifle at the women and stepped forward, only stopping when her lover placed her hand on her shoulder.
"Wait, we need to hear what they have to say first," Sarah explained, lowering her shotgun as a show of faith. Of course, no one, but Cameron, had any idea how fast she could get off a round.
"I agree with Cameron." Seven of Nine held her phaser at the ready, tired of the way the members of the group always stabbed each other in the back just to get their fandom more print. She'd once been at the pinnacle, having not one, but two lovers during her time at the top, or rather, as the top.
"Now, let's be rational about this. I think Tracey had the right idea." Kathryn Janeway stepped to one side of Seven, while B'Elanna Torres moved to the other. If blood was to be shed, it wouldn't be Seven's.
As if reading the Voyager women's mind, another voice chimed in, "Look, we're on vacation," Erica Hahn gestured toward herself, then her lover Callie Torres, before nodding at Janet Frasier, Kerry Weaver, Addison Montgomery, Izzie Stevens, Colleen McMurphy, and Denise Sherwood. She shot the bird at Cristina Yang before continuing. "We'd rather not have to stick our hands into someone's chest or sew anyone up either, for that matter. So, let's let the lawyers settle this matter." Although, the idea of sticking her hands on someone's chest had certainly appealed to the good doctor.
At the mention of the word lawyer, Olivia suddenly came alive. "Alex is gone!" She dove for her gun and came up with it snugly in her hand as she pointed the weapon back at the dozens of other women. "And someone in this camp has taken her."
"And Gabrielle, too." Xena gripped her chakram and stepped next to Olivia, the two women who'd started the standoff, offering a united front.
"Nobody's taken anyone." An English accent floated from over the heads of the warrior and detective, coming from the last row of chairs that had been set up for Saturday's main event. "They're on stage." Jane Bond stepped next to Xena and motioned over her shoulder. Helena Peabody straightened out her blouse and joined her lover, having no idea she'd left her bra on one of the chairs. She could barely remember her name.
"On stage?" Xena stared at the Brit and then turned her gaze to the stage area. She tilted her head and squinted, trying to spot either blonde, but she could barely see the second row of seating. However, her superior hearing was able to pinpoint Gabrielle's voice.
"Gin, we're tied!"
Olivia could neither see nor hear Gabrielle. "I don't believe you." She aimed her gun at Jane, but Xena placed her hand on the detective's arm and slowly lowered it until the gun was pointed at the ground.
"Gabrielle's there alright, and I think Alex is, too. Sounds as if someone has them tied up and is forcing them to drink gin." Xena looked out over the group to see if there was anyone missing who could be the culprit. She sneered. "Where's Ash?"
"Snoring, I'd imagine," Scribbs piped up. "She's allergic to the pine tree blooms, so I gave her an allergy tablet. It knocked her on her ass."
"God, if I'd been allergic to grass, I'd have never made it through my stint at China Beach," KC whispered in her lover's ear. She and Colleen had had some memorable nights with a little help from Mary Jane, and with additional assistance from the writers who wrote their fandom, she'd hoped to relive those moments yet again.
"Did someone say grass?" Jill Bernhardt reached back for her lover's hand and tugged her in the direction of KC. "C'mon, I think we can score some weed."
"Weed?" Cindy Thomas broke out in a huge smile and hurried to keep up with her lover, her eyes tracking left and right, searching for Lindsay. She'd managed to keep Jill a secret from Lindsay for this long, surely another week wouldn't be a problem. Besides, her other lover was too busy trying to keep the peace. It was definitely time for some tent-hopping.
Meanwhile, halfway up the aisle to the stage, Xena and Olivia finally spotted their lovers, sitting at the back corner with a lantern between them. The light illuminated the deck of cards Alex was currently dealing as well as a wineskin that sat in Gabrielle's lap. They slowly made their way forward as a large group of women followed, keeping their distance just in case Xena decided to send the chakram flying in their direction. On the sidelines, Willow and Tara readied to erect a force field if necessary, while Buffy and Faith, their ever present stakes clutched tightly in their hands, looked for any non-human interference.
"This isn't going to work," complained Alex, but only after she'd studied her current hand. If she was able to pull this game out, it'd be a miracle. "Besides, your fic is going to be the first one read aloud at the opening ceremonies, I think it's only right that I get to introduce the featured speaker."
"Oh no, we're not stopping now." A huge smile split Gabrielle's face as she slid the last card into its ordered place. She was going to win this game, big time. "You're just jealous because your fic reads like one of your briefs long and boring." Alex threw her cards in Gabrielle's face and lunged forward.
"Uh oh," said Xena, increasing her stride and leaping into the fray.
"Oh shit," uttered Olivia as she raced to catch up with the warrior. Gabrielle had almost broken Alex's nose the last time they'd engaged in a wrestling match. She arrived just as Xena had wrenched her lover from the head lock Alex had on the bard.
"Break it up you two," Olivia ordered authoritatively, but with a grin; she couldn't believe Alex had actually managed to overpower Gabrielle. Maybe those self-defense maneuvers she'd taught her lover were finally paying off.
The crowd of onlookers watched with bated breath, until it became painfully obvious that the fight was over. This one had been the most disappointing of them all not a single drop of blood had been shed. They'd secretly been hoping there'd be enough damage inflicted to keep the bard and lawyer from appearing in any fics for awhile. Then maybe there would be more words for their own fandoms.
"C'mon, everyone back to bed. The party's over, the blondes are still in one piece." Barbara Gordon sighed disappointedly. With Alex and Gabrielle temporarily out of the way and the release of her series to DVD, she was hoping her fandom would make a comeback of sorts, even if it probably wouldn't occur until after the International Day of Femslash. She motioned her lover, Helena Kyle, to push her back to their tent, exhaustion evident in her features.
Helena took hold of the wheelchair and started forward, whispering in her lover's ear. "Don't fret, Babs. It's early yet; those two will get into it again, probably more than once, too." She grinned at the thought. "But for now, let's take advantage of the RV Alfred rented for us." With renewed vigor, Barbara placed her hands on the wheels and pushed hard, forcing a laughing Helena to break into a jog to keep up.
Slowly, two by two, each couple broke off from the group and retired to their tents in anticipation of what could still come. They knew full well the next fracas could very well be the one to spring their fandoms forward, and so, tonight, they'd each celebrate the possibility in the arms of their lovers.
Finally, Scribbs stood alone, watching as the warrior and detective led their lovers away. She glanced at the wineskin that had been knocked from the stage and then back at the tent she shared with Ash. Even in her state of unconsciousness, Scribbs was certain Ash would know if her lover had broken her rule on drinking in bed. Shuffling her feet pitifully, she returned to her tent and the freight-train snoring Ash.
When peace and quiet, not counting all the soft moaning, had once again returned to the valley, a hooded head poked out from behind the stage curtains and glanced around the raised platform. A diminutive woman slowly eased out from behind her hiding place and moved to the edge of the stage, her gaze passing over the valley with a critical eye. Most of the tents were already occupied, but she knew there were still quite a few fandoms that had not yet arrived. Pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose, she pulled back her tired shoulders and returned to the TARDIS she'd borrowed from Dr. Who. If she hurried, she could return to her homeland and put out the call for more fic, vids, and graphics. She was determined that International Day of Femslash would go down in the annals of history as the most memorable milestone in the endless quest to promote femslash.
A bright light suddenly flashed across the land, replaced almost immediately by the night's darkness. The Queen had left the valley.
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